Technology and the family

Do you have a love-hate relationship with technology? I want to have access to email, web sites, text messages, phone calls, and Facebook. Yet it's not healthy to be completely accessible all the time. I want to use technology (after all, I am blogging right now), but I seek -- and often find myself breaking -- proper boundaries. I want to have it both ways.

In my home we have an ongoing love-hate relationship with technology. Our kids could be on various kinds of screens almost every waking moment. Often they use more than one screen at a time. I often wonder whether their time couldn't be used more productively. The ubiquitous presence of screens can't be good. And yet technology is not entirely bad either. Again it is a matter of what technology is being used for and where the boundaries are.

Scot McKnight has written a thought-provoking blog post discussing the Barna Group's recent report on technology and the family. McKnight highlights these findings from Barna:

1. Parents are just as dependent on technology as are teens and tweens. Younger parents are all the more prone to use technology more often.
2. Most family members, even parents, feel that technology has been a positive influence on their families. Most families welcome technology with open arms.
3. Very few adults or youth take substantial breaks from technology. McKnight observes, "The question arises whether families are in control of their technology or being controlled by it."
4. Families experience conflict about technology but not in predictable ways. McKnight writes, "The conclusion stemming from the research is that technology seems to amplify the relational patterns and problems already in place: families that have healthy and frequent conversations find technology aiding that process, while families without such healthy interactions find that technology exacerbates the isolation of its members."
5. Few families have experienced  -- or expect -- churches to address technology. Families are not getting sufficient coaching about how to integrate technology into daily life. In my opinion, there is training going on, but it is more ad hoc than intentional. Church communities establish norms for the use of technology by their members in the course of doing life together. Still, more is needed in terms of overt conversations about technology itself.


  1. Good info, and this is the conversation Jen and I are having. As a technology and gadget lover, it's difficult to find the proper boundaries.

  2. Hey Todd -- I think it's a conversation we in the church will be having (or should be having) for many years into the foreseeable future. As you work things out, I hope you'll share your findings with others.

    I know one thing: boundaries are necessary. And they keep shifting as new technologies bring old boundaries into question or make them obsolete. Hence the need for an ongoing conversation.


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